Concordia digs into debt

At the Jan. 22 Concordia Board of Governors meeting it was unanimously decided that the university would enter into a deficit of up to $7.5 million for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

After the Quebec government announced a $124 million cut for universities across the province in December, Concordia administrators were scrambling to find a way to end the winter semester after taking a $13.2 million cut to their operating grant.

University President Alan Shepard explained that the $13.2 million accounts for approximately five per cent of Concordia’s operating budget. Provincial funding is dispensed incrementally throughout the school year and so Concordia will never see the $13.2 million it had been banking on.

The university will be cutting costs by closing positions which are currently vacant. As Shepard explained, deficits are a “short-term solution,” and not one which the university is eager to repeat. Shepard went on to emphasize that his priority moving forward would be to avoid making any changes which would negatively affect academics, research and student financial aid.

BoG Chair Norman Hébert stated that “we don’t have a history of running deficits,” and that “both the financial committee and the Board took this extremely seriously.”

Concordia’s budget has been revised four times since the beginning of the academic year. The university had budgeted a $600,000 surplus in an earlier draft and that money will also go towards covering the $13.2 million loss.

Looking to the future, Shepard said that it is still unclear whether or not this government cut will be a one-time occurrence and that “all eyes are on the [education] summit” which is set for Feb. 25 and 26.

When Premier Pauline Marois cancelled the tuition hike imposed by the old Liberal government, universities were promised additional funding to make up for the loss in revenue. As of yet, Concordia hasn’t received confirmation about the exact amount or when that money will be transferred.


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